We are covered by the majestic mercy, lavish love and grandiose grace of God. AMEN! Yet David admitted that at times he felt weary as he agonized over God’s silence. “Why, O Lord, do You reject me and hide your face from me.” Has anyone ever compared their spiritual life to another and found themselves wanting? Mother Teresa sacrificed her life in service to God, she won the Nobel Peace Prize, but her dark doubts were published in a book. “Such deep longing for God and repulsed – I am empty without faith – no love – no zeal. Pray for me as I no longer pray.” The Word says “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” The Word also says that God loved us first, and we trust His Word as the Truth, and yet many feel empty in the midst of pain. In the book “Furious Pursuit” it lists relentless stories of struggle. Truthfully, I too have felt isolated or unheard when I needed God. This book is a great read for anyone who has wrestled with God. Instead of living in joy and peace, some admit that they live in a state of dread, worry or regret over their inability to remain faithful. Many of us trust in God’s goodness …so long as we can maintain rigid, strict obedience…but who can be 100% faithful in this world of pain and confusion? Brennan Manning wrote “It is one thing to feel loved by God when our life is good. Loving self as God loves us is easy then…but when life falls apart, when we slip and sin, when our dreams shatter, do we still feel the love of God? How about the unwed mother, or the girl who got an abortion, or the man addicted to porn? Or a Pastor of 40 years whose prayers go unanswered? The fear of not being good enough returns and we become immobilized in doubt, and we secretly isolate. The truth is that the story of loneliness is very common in the Christian walk. Quoting Mark Buchanan “I’m often surprised to find how my doubts can mingle so freely with my faith.” Eph 2:8 “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” God tells us in Heb 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Praise God for His knowledge of our human, often fickle hearts…and that our Father in heaven sees us as He created us, and He loves us anyway!
The most damaging deception we encounter in life are the lies we tell ourselves. “My faith is so weak, I’m just an unworthy sinner.” But God says …that it is NOT about our faith, it is about His faithfulness. 2 Tim 2:13. “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” In the next book review “Under Cover” we are encouraged to admit that we have all been deceived by someone… and with honest reflection, we have at times deceived ourselves. How did Satan deceive Eve in the garden or Mother Teresa in Calcutta? Eve lived in a perfect world, while Mother Teresa lived among the dying. Eve had never seen death, she had never been lied to, or rejected. No person in authority over Eve had ever abused her, she was never beaten, or left alone to defend herself. She had no bad experience with a family member, a boss, or a preacher. She lived in a magnificent garden, free from any negative emotions, or any demonic oppression. Eve walked in complete confidence of her Father’s love. All her needs were wholesomely met. She happily walked and talked with the only Father she knew! We are called to remember 231 times in the bible. Think back to your day in the garden, the day you gave your heart to Jesus. Remember how your hunger for God ravaged your soul? Fanatical for a time, I could not imagine anything better that reading His word and leading people to Jesus. But then life happened, and tho I still believed, my fire went to a dimmed flicker. Consider then… How did the devil deceive EVE? Taking time to analyze how she was so easily deceived is vital to our safety from a slip into similar trickery. When God restricted her access to the tree of good and evil, He did so out of His love. Without God’s command to NOT eat from that one tree, Eve would not have had the choice to offend or obey. (Gen. 3:1) “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” Satan is the ‘Rebel with a Cause’ to destroy. His effective strategy was to distort our Father’s command.
With a simple twist of words, the devil implied that something good was being withheld. Hmmm, Eve dangerously began thinking “why not?” Does our reasoning mind ever lead us to disobey our Father’s authority, His covering, His Way? Listening to the news, Satan easily gets it into our head ‘that we should elevate ourselves over others’. We then begin to wrongly imagine that we have to become something the world calls worthy. This LIE creates a need within our flesh to have people notice us, commend us, revere us and stroke our pride. We then dare to boast about all we are. When we hear ourselves boasting, we must stop and remind ourselves that we do NOT belong to the prince of the air. We do NOT need to brag about all we have done for God. With the knowledge of what happened in the garden, we are acutely aware of Satan’s schemes. Rebuke any impulse to lift self above God! Moment by moment, decision by decision, step by step, we exercise our God given right to choose the Way, the Truth and the humble Life “in Christ”.
Our Father disciplines us with a tinge of regret, a holy prick that says “I should NOT have said that, or done that.” Eve could have simply said “NO” my Father knows best…but according to her willful reasoning, she chose to dishonor her Dad. Eve had access to a variety of foods to eat, but the slick serpent drew her attention to the one tree her Father commanded her to NOT eat from. While on a low carb diet, I know what to do, but it is difficult to resist the pie, the bread. AMEN! Eve’s focus was shifted to what she could not have. She began to question the goodness of her Father. Consider Eve’s thinking : “The tree looks harmless, the fruit appears healthy, perhaps Dad wants this tree to Himself.” Eve experienced doubt about her Dad’s motives and His authority to tell her what to do! Satan assured Eve “Instead of dying, you’ll become wise like God. With regret, I can look back and admit that I have acted without asking God what I should say or do. Disillusioned, Eve judged the fruit to be good, not bad or harmful – Can our justification also deafen our ears to what the Spirit is saying? As she focused on what was forbidden, she forgot the abundant goodness tucked within obedience. The master of disobedience will agree with our well thought out excuses to disobey God every time! The moment Sin was Conceived—Slavery Followed. Scripture confirms, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey. (Rom. 6:16). Often BEFORE we choose to disobey, we will feel justified in our mind, as the voice of God is muffled. Before Adam and Eve disobeyed there was no anger, malice, fraud, bitterness… sexual perversion, drug abuse, drunkenness, murder, wife or child abuse, sickness, disease, or poverty. The garden never had an earthquake, hurricane, plague. ( James 1:16). “Do not be deceived… my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” Just like Eve, I have looked outside of God’s provision to fulfill my desires. Shrugging off warnings, at times I allowed my reasoning to supersede God’s will. How many have ever chosen what was most pleasing, rather than what pleases God? God’s love language is OBEDIENCE. His repeated warning: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for THAT DAY will not come until the rebellion occurs …
and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 2 Thess 2:3-10 —-“crowned them with glory and honor.” (Ps. 8:5) Adam and Eve did not have physical covering or clothing; rather, they were “crowned” with glory. The word crowned means “to circle or surround.” Like Adam and Eve, today we who trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we too are encircled, or surrounded, or under the Cover of God’s glory and His Authority. God desires our obedience over any sacrifice. His living Word repeatedly warns us “not to be deceived.” Why did God tell His people that He did not want their songs and sacrifices? God explains in (Isa. 66:4) “Because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear” They sacrificed, but they did not listen or obey God. The highest form of worship is obedience. The lord of lawlessness, is Satan, his voice is behind our choice to rebel or disobey. His evil voice was granted entrance into the mind of man through Adam an Eve’s disobedience. The man of lawlessness has the same objective today: to control or rule everyone and everything. In the story of Cain and Abel, Cain was a slave to sin, and he obeyed the voice of lawlessness when he killed his brother in a rage. He was easily angered and quick to speak! When God questioned where Abel was, Cain lied “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9). Consider a time when you were being corrected, exhorted or questioned. Did you angrily defend yourself? Did you begin to justify a lawless behavior or a disobedient act which was in question? If we humble ourselves before the Lord, and confess our sin, our pride, our rebellious anger, then the image of God will be honored in us and through us. Cain imagined himself as wise as God—or sometimes even wiser. Repeating rebellious actions, or angry defenses over and over, dulls the voice of the Holy Spirit. We become more in tune with the voice of Satan, and we are quick to anger. Many believers today are much like Cain and Saul. They started out diligently, but over time, their many words and their anger issues kept them in disobedience. With a deaf ear to the Spirit of God, the deceived one refuses to admit their error. They choose to persist in their own way, and the spirit of lawlessness floods their life. God graciously attempts to open our eyes to areas of disobedience, but as with Cain or Saul, we will not see truth until we first humble ourselves. Lawlessness manifests in many forms: greed, hatred, anger, unforgiveness, strife, selfishness, sexual sin, or murdering others with gossip, or the stubborn mental state of “I am right and you are wrong.” Often in this deceived and offended state, we can easily imagine we are right with God. As we rebel against obedience, we step out from under God’s Covering, His holy umbrella of Authority, favor and protection. On the Day of Judgment when truth is revealed, let us not be the one caught in the rain of God’s wrath and wonder, “How did I drift so far from obedience to the ways of God?” Let us willingly submit to being under God’s Covering, His Authority. There is only one hope for people in deception: that God’s mercy will open their eyes; that the light of His truth will cause them to fall to their knees and ask to be forgiven for their stubborn rebellion an disobedience. What if we obey 99 percent of the time? How often do we hear: “Why don’t you look at all I have done? You’re just focusing on the little I didn’t!” Human reasoning, or self justification is NOT in line with the divine Way and Will of God, the supreme Authority over heaven and earth. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).The moment a person disobeys the Word of God, a veil of deception goes over his heart. That veil distorts and obstructs his perception according to the will of Satan. Saul was deceived in his reasoning and confident that he was right when, in reality, he was wrong. Saul’s belief conflicted with God’s reality. The veil of deception covers our hearts, thereby lessening the sense of conviction and replacing it with human reasoning. As we repeat our ways, we fall short, justify our choices and another veil blankets our hearts, muffling the voice of God. As soon as we sense a mere tingle of conviction, if we justify, another shroud of deception veils our hearts. We want to avoid the THICK VEIL of self-deception so that our hearts do NOT harden against the voice of the Holy Spirit. Deception hides the truth from us. Some hold the dangerous belief of “Once saved always saved”. Their sense of good and evil is now drawn from a voice other than the living Word of God. God always attempts to reach a rebellious person through conviction.
When sin is repeated, the person looses touch with the heart and directives of God. A veil of deception is very real and without examining our hearts, we can easily deceive ourselves. God sent the prophet Samuel to Saul. However, God can send any person. God has effectively used the voice of a pastor, parent, boss, spouse, friend or even a stranger. When a believer still does not hear what the Spirit is saying, God allows consequences. Paul wrote in (1 Cor. 11:31). , “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged” A man with an unrepentant heart diverts blame to others when caught in disobedience. Responsibility is rejected. Adam blamed God and Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. Saul justified his disobedience. Jesus said of Himself, “I do not seek My own will ………………but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). Help Sara with bags of groceries so she can feed the kids bellies and souls.
The spirit of rebellion manipulates people into a life of jealousy, anger, hatred, and deception. Satan controls people to the point of unrepentant disobedience. Saul chased and tried to kill David, a faithful servant because Saul was deceived into believing that David was a traitor, when in reality he was a man after the heart of God.
The Truth became a lie, and the lies became his perceived truth. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
We resist the devil by choosing to submit to God’s Authority, and His voice. When we take a detour, out from under God’s Covering, we are subject to the chaos of the storms in life. Many faithful disciples suffer while living obedient lives, however, the discerning perceive God’s hand forging His way through unlikely people. Biblical people suffered while walking in obedience: Jesus, Joseph, Hannah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Hagar, Job, Tamar, and others. The difference between the hardship of the obedient and those under the spirit of lawlessness is that there is spiritual progress for the obedient. 2 Sam 12:13 “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’” A truly repentant heart offers no angry defense, they simply admit their sin, and they receive grace from God, but not without consequences. (Rom. 13:1–2) “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Every leader has legitimate authority. They have all been appointed by God, for a specific reason, never by accident. Jesus is the head of the church, the state, the country and the world.
What is true victory in Christ? Our faithful obedience. REMEMBER: Our Father’s love language is obedience. 1 John 5:3 “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…” in another word: OBEY – Our honest testimony and our willing heart is what causes the Lord to delight over us! Praise God that we are NOT defined by what we do…but by Who passionately pursues us. AMEN – TURN OFF the voice of confusion, and shut off the deceiver! Listen to God whispering “ I love you and I will never depart from you”. Hallelujah! We are all Conquerors, Overcomers, Warriors! We are Victorious in Christ. “Every Praise is to our God”!
EVERYONE MOVING IN UNISON!
I came as a Lamb,
I humbled Myself, and I walked as a Man.
But this time I’m coming like a Mighty Lion,
And I will cause My Church,
To have a backbone like iron.
I will move by My Spirit and cause you to pray.
You shall pull down the strongholds that stand in the way.
For I am raising up people never seen before
Equipping My soldiers for the final war.
This battle will not be fought with ammunition,
But with songs of praise you will take your position.
Your ears will be tuned to the Captain’s command.
You will take back the Cities,
You will march through the land.
And women and children will take their stand.
All colors, all races, will walk hand in hand.
This Army will be filled with the Holy Ghost,
And their Commander in Chief as the Lord of Hosts.
Everyone marching in One accord,
All in this Army sold out to our Lord.
All with their eyes on the Crucified One,
And everyone moving in Unison!
Author of this poem Unknown
This blog post is a summary of two books. “Furious Pursuit” by Tim King an Frank Martin. “Under Cover” by John Bevere.